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Pizza magnate wins temporary ruling on contraception coverage dispute
Thomas Monaghan, the multimillionaire founder of Domino's Pizza, pictured at the University of Ava Maria, which he founded September 27, 2007.
December 31st, 2012
05:35 PM ET

Pizza magnate wins temporary ruling on contraception coverage dispute

By Bill Mears, CNN

(CNN)– The billionaire founder of Domino's Pizza has won a temporary court victory, with a federal judge blocking enforcement of part of the health care reform bill requiring most employers to provide a range of contraception and reproductive health services.

Some business owners and their staff see that as a violation of their religious rights.

Federal Judge Lawrence Zatkoff issued his order late Sunday, saying Thomas Monaghan had "shown that abiding by the mandate will substantially burden his exercise of religion."

"The (federal) government has failed to satisfy its burden of showing that its actions were narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest," said Zatkoff, a 1986 Reagan appointee. "Therefore, the court finds that plaintiffs have established at least some likelihood of succeeding on the merits" of their claim.

Monaghan filed the emergency petition this month, on behalf of himself and Domino's Farms Corp., a Michigan property management firm he operates, not directly related to the pizza-chain empire. Monaghan sold his majority interest in the pizza company in 1998.

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The case will continue to be heard in the federal courts while the stay remains in effect. The Obama administration has the option of appealing the order.

The judge's opinion comes just days after two federal appeals courts in Chicago and St. Louis became the first to rule against enforcement for businesses of the contraceptives mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The policy was set to go into effect Tuesday for many companies whose new insurance year begins on January 1st.

At issue is whether secular, for-profit enterprises– owned and operated by those of a strong religious or personal faith– are exempt from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The separate health care law - dubbed Obamacare - provides such exceptions for religious institutions such as the Catholic Church, of which Monaghan is a member. He argues individually that contraception or abortion does not constitute "health care" and involves immoral practices that destroy "innocent human life."

"Causing death can never be considered a form of medical treatment," said Monaghan in court papers.
Other religious-affiliated groups like parochial schools and church-run hospitals are also temporarily exempted until new final rules are written in coming months.

That followed complaints from a variety of entities over who exactly was covered under the mandates, and who could bring legal objections in court.

The Justice Department, on behalf of the Obama administration, said the 2010 law - upheld this year by the Supreme Court - was designed to provide a range of preventive health services through expanded coverage and lower costs.

Federal lawyers - backed by a range of medical and abortion-rights groups - said economically disadvantaged women in particular need affordable access to reproductive health services contained in the law, which it said was a "compelling governmental interest."

Hobby Lobby faces millions in fines for bucking Obamacare

Under the law, companies with at least 50 employees must provide their female employees of child-bearing age insurance coverage for pregnancy-prevention care, including doctor visits and medicine.

Those firms face daily fines and tax penalties for failure to comply.

Other federal courts - including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor last week– have allowed the new mandates to go into effect. Sotomayor in an order December 26 said the Supreme Court has never ruled on whether individuals or companies can rightfully claim federal mandates under their constitutional rights of religious freedom.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

That case involved Hobby Lobby Inc., and Mardel, Inc. and five family members involved in ownership and control of the corporations, who had protested the requirement.

Those separate companies said they would be required "to provide insurance coverage for certain drugs and devices that the applicants believe can cause abortions," which would be against their religious beliefs.
The petitioners said they would face irreparable harm if forced to choose between paying fines and complying with the requirement.

But Sotomayor - who handles emergency appeals from the 10th Circuit - said the applicants failed to meet "the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief," and that they could continue to pursue their challenge in lower courts and return to the higher court, if necessary, following a final judgment.

There was no indication when or if the high court would ultimately decide the religious freedom question. Several dozen separate lawsuits are pending in various lower federal courts.

The Michigan case is Monaghan v. Sebelius (12-15488).

CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Faith & Health

soundoff (1,866 Responses)
  1. Freddie the Fez

    I disagree with Social Security. At best it is a ponzi scheme. At worst, it is gambling. Either way, against my religious beliefs. Therefore, I should be exempt from having to pay it. Jesus never did what he was told by the Romans. So why should I have to do what the government tells me, too? Washing hands while serving your food is their policy, not mine. I shouldn't have to do it. Where's my religious freedom?

    December 31, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Papa John

      forget the religious freedom, where's your hygiene?

      December 31, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  2. Rach

    I tweeted dominos and did further research after their retweet. this guy has sold dominos and has no affiliation with the pizza business anymore. this article is slightly misleading.

    December 31, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Rach

      it doesnt state hes not involved with the pizza biz till 3 or 4 paragraphs in.

      but i'll shop at Michael's instead of Hobby Lobby now for sure!

      December 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • sally

      But evidently he didn't sell 100% of his interest.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Papa John

      He had time to re-tweet? Never happen at Papa's..too busy making pizza rounds.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Papa John

      Look, we can't run successful pizzerias and pay a living wage at the same time, let alone provide health care and still become billionaires..something has to give and it ain't gonna be Papa.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  3. KR

    The judge gets a free pizza.

    December 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  4. Papa John

    A Superbowl preview..watch for the Popemobile at halftime..That's right we are the new official pizza for the Vatican.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • sally

      LOL.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  5. JAY

    Billionaires paying slave wages should also be against their religion.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Robb D.

      Hey dummy, slaves don't get paid.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • veritas

      Hey, Robb D., you're the dummy. It's called hyperbole. "Slaves wages" is an expression meaning woefully insufficient wages for the job performed. Please get a basic education before posting in the future.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  6. Angel Moronic

    Just an interesting fact: So Tommy Monaghan sold his Domino in 1998 to ... guess who ... Bain Capital . No wonder the pizza started tasting no so good after that ;-)

    December 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  7. bert f.

    So this ruling could mean that someone owning a business and being a Christian Scientist would not have to provide any health care coverage for their employees because Christian Scientist don't believe in doctors or medical science?

    December 31, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Yep. Stupid is as stupid does. I'd love to see it as a way to confront these hypocrites on what they really believe.

      "No, no, it's not about 'religious beliefs' per se, it's more about a woman's v@gin.....um....reproduct.....um....look, we don't like what happens up in a qussy.....I mean....wait...."

      December 31, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Papa John

      Interesting loophole..I'll look into it.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • DaMeglet

      Yeah, doesn't seem right, does it? Now his business can discriminate against the people who are not Catholic by denying them birth control. You know, some women need to be on hormones(birth control) because of reproductive system problems. Some women also need to be on birth control because it would be very dangerous for them to get pregnant. It's not all about religion and immoral behavior. Not everyone on earth was put here to spawn. And thank God! Not everyone should! This is BS. This man is a hypocrite trying to save a buck, nothing more.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  8. Name*penguin

    My religion is against the military. Do I get my taxes reduced by the proportion of the budget spent on defense

    December 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  9. frank

    What a weird year. Who would have thought cheap pizza would have a religious connotation? Then of course there was the
    old salesman Billy de Graham Cracker & Sons, Inc. taking on a new product: Planet Kolob and Co., Inc. to add to their conglomerate of folklore wares. Who knows, maybe Chick-fil-A will come out with a happy meal with a little toy planet Kolob to commemorate that partnership. Then of course there was the juicy NT scandal: finding out that the carpenter was actually gay and into feet evidently – and that he kept a wife, no less. I suspect the wife was all for show, so it was probably someone like Michele Bachmann, you know, very reptilian.

    And of course, the guy with the pointy hat in Rome was feeling left out, so he felt compelled to try to lift his idle (and idol) flock out of boredom by clarifying what kind of pets were around when the carpenter was born. Perhaps the big surprise was Pat Robertson becoming more sane – refuting the goofballs who keep trying to write a new screenplay for their little book of fable ever time we learn something new in science. So all in all, it was a fun year, religiously speaking.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Excellent write up, frank.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  10. Scott S

    Screw these religious freaks!!!! If a woman want to take "the pill" or even the "morning after pill" then thats HER BUSINESS!!! Not her employer OR anyone else's business!!! I WILL NOT order food from someone that presumes to push their veiws on their employees or anyone... Their pizza sucks 95% of the time anyway...

    December 31, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • lerianis

      Agreed. Scott. This isn't about infringing on someone else's religious beliefs, this is about telling people that they CANNOT force their religious beliefs on other people by refusing to cover necessary medical services.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • comen

      Scott, It is her decision on health care and to pay for her decision. This employer's/ person's choice based on religion has nothing to do with you or the employees decision to work there, or decide on their health care they apy for.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • PH

      Scott-He doesn't own Domino's anymore so boycotting Domino's does nothing, Next- The issue is not the woman's right to take a pill; that right is well established. The issue is whether the cost of contraception should be born by someone other than the user. As to your "screw the religious freaks" comments, at least half of our country embrace some form of religion so your proclaims take out a broad swarth of US citizens. Thanks for your tolerance.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Mike

      No one should be forced to pay for abortion pills

      December 31, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Typically, the "cost of contraception" has been born in the past two decades by the insurance company as part of general healthcare. The reason is that it's a heck of a lot cheaper than paying medical care for a child for eighteen years. So, if it's a part of normal health care / insurance coverage, then no, the company does not get to pick and choose which part of normal health care their insurance covers. Besides, it's the law. You can go around killing people because your religious beliefs say that people who work on the Sabbath should be stoned. That's stupid.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @ Mike

      Wow, you're stupid, aren't you. No one is being forced to pay for "abortion pills."

      December 31, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  11. doughnuts

    Hope that judge enjoys having his rulings reversed on appeal.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  12. MJ

    My take on their argument is it COULD apply to any business whose ownership objected to a health-care related service that was in opposition to their own religious beliefs.....it seems that under current employment law, you can't force your own personal religious beliefs on your employees, i.e. not provide certain healh care services thru insurance coverage if you/your religion objects.....most women, of ANY religious persuation, regard reproductive health care as preventive health care services, even if that category may include abortion services. While most would never get or even need an abortion, do they then get the right to deny others that service if it's needed? I am female, devout Catholic, in my mid-60s with children & grandchildren....but I would never presume to interfere in another woman's decision-making in regards to reproductive health care.....including their right to decide about abortion. Are we now so rigid that we will force women to have an unwanted pregnancy?? I lived through those times when it was illegal....women will always get abortions if they feel it's necessary.....and I personally feel the woman has far more rights than a fetus that cannot live outside the womb on its' own.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Papa John

      Our pizza has all the good stuff. You got the veggies, the dairy, the enriched flour, the protein, even fruit for another .1.50. You can live on it.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      What about the Christian Scientist business owner? Do they get to deny health care coverage completely/ After all, they don't believe in modern medicine? I'd love to see that case come up because it's the exact same issue.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  13. Kat

    First I boycott Papa John's...Now no Dominoes...I just tried their new pizza...just spent twice as much on a better pizza..at a local joint...Get the corporations out of our medical decisions...Contraception makes women from taking more time off..calling in sick and since they make minimum wage at your place..the taxpayers will be relieved not to pay welfare....Let the women decide if they can AFFORD another child on your minimum wage salary....Religion has no business in other people's decision...Do not like it..do not do it....

    December 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • MJ

      very well said....

      December 31, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • John

      Kat, your response is quite unique. So if we abolishing the act of reproduction, the world would be more productive. The new pro-choice slogan should be "Abortion: The new productivity tool"

      December 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Papa John

      Ok, I heard you, man..felt your pain..From now on a $.50 per hour raise across the board for all of Papa's family.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • bob

      were you drunk when you made this post

      December 31, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • comen

      Kat, You are a hypocrite. You must be a fan of Putin's anti-religion, anti-freedom dictatorship also. Get yourself out of others' religious beliefs and decisions. This person's choice based on religion has nothing to do with you or the employees decision to work there.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Mike

      To someone who is truly religious, every decision should be according to God's will. You apparently don't believe in God, but I wonder if you can understand other's perspectives that God matters in every decision.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      God's will is that adulterers and people who work on the Sabbath should be stoned to death. I think I'll start stoning some employees tomorrow morning!!

      December 31, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • carpe diem

      Earlier this week, news stories came out that Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan had filed suit against the federal government regarding healthcare. Since that time, the story has been widely misreported to indicate Domino’s was involved in this action, which is completely untrue. Tom Monaghan sold Domino’s Pizza in 1998 and today has NO active affiliation with our company. The media often neglect to note this fact. His views are not our views, nor are his actions in any way related to our actions. Domino's Pizza has made no public statements about health care, as we are still waiting to see how the final rules will affect our network of small business owners. Domino's is not a political company; it is not a religious company – we are a pizza company........From Dominos Pizzas Facebook page

      January 1, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  14. EB

    OK. No more Domino's pizza for this enlightened household. Founder should go back to 18th century, he would fit right in.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Eric

      "enlightened" - cute.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • comen

      EB, How would you feel if there government made you eat Dominos no matter what? Thank your luck you have a choice, just like each person has a choice to pursue their own health care and pay for it, as well as work for Dominos or not work for Dominos.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Mike

      Great response comen. You made some great points.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      The law doesn't work that way, though. It should, but it doesn't. But frankly, I don't see the difference when the money is going to a third party anyway. So companies have a problem paying an insurance company to do something they don't like, but they have no problem paying the employee to do something that they don't like? Makes no sense.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • carpe diem

      Earlier this week, news stories came out that Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan had filed suit against the federal government regarding healthcare. Since that time, the story has been widely misreported to indicate Domino’s was involved in this action, which is completely untrue. Tom Monaghan sold Domino’s Pizza in 1998 and today has NO active affiliation with our company. The media often neglect to note this fact. His views are not our views, nor are his actions in any way related to our actions. Domino's Pizza has made no public statements about health care, as we are still waiting to see how the final rules will affect our network of small business owners. Domino's is not a political company; it is not a religious company – we are a pizza company........From Dominos Pizzas Facebook page

      January 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  15. theMan

    Domino's needs to go out of business and take their crappy pizza with them.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Stephen Daedalus

      Very true... whatever their stance on these matters pales in comparison to the truly awful pizza they make.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • frank

      It is rather the bottom of the barrel when it comes to something slightly resembling pizza.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Papa John

      Agreed

      December 31, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Double Pulsars

      theMan – You are absolutely friggin' right! Domino's pizzas are the worst! Even FROZEN pizzas taste WAY better!

      December 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  16. sally

    THIS IS REALLY PIZZING ME OFF! NO MORE DOMINO'S!! NO MORE PIZZA! NO MORE DOMINOS SUGAR!!
    NO MORE SUNDAYS IN MEXICO! WHO NEEDS ALL THIS JUNK!

    ok i feel a little bit better now

    December 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Papa John

      so..what are you doing later?

      December 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Mike

      Sally, have you checked to see if there are any anger management classes in your area?

      December 31, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  17. Gregg

    Personally I am against abortion, just to make sure you know where I am coming from on that...

    The portion of the insurance policy that most employers pay for their employees is considered part of the wages, hence additional benefits making up the employees compensation. For a company run by anyone, to tell me what I can or cannot do with my fairly received compensation is simply offensive. This would be akin to a company owned by muslims saying you cannot use your paycheck to buy alcohol. Yes, that really is an apples to apples comparison.

    Had these companies argued that the addition of birth control amounted to an unsupportable benefit financially I could have supported them. But the line of reasoning that an employee cannot use their compensation from employment as they see fit is down right ridiculous.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Stephen Daedalus

      All that being said, it's going to get crushed in further court actions... so... while you have a right to your views you have no right to see them imposed on anyone.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • JonR

      This is simply forcing the employer's religious beliefs onto the employees. If you don't believe in contraception, then just don't use it.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Benn

      Very good point and I agree with the logic that you apply here but do you think the fact that those fringe benefits are not taxed as wages and other compensation might be factors to consider and influence any future decisions that are sure to come? (Honest question.)

      December 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • John

      Gregg, you bring up a great point. Companies today often charge a surcharge if you smoke. Maybe the right thing would be to have a surcharge if you want abortion coverage or pill coverage. Maybe another way to look at is that most companies don't cover elective procedures. Having an abortion could be classified as elective, since the person makes a choice. As for the pill, they don't cover condoms or other contraceptives so while is the pill special. I don't want a headache so I take an asprin, should it be covered as well.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @John

      You do realize the immense cost taken on by an insurance company when a woman has a baby? And then the medical costs of that human for eighteen years? The insurance companies pay for birth control because it's cheaper for them to do that then pay the costs for new humans. duh.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  18. sally

    Time to boycott all these SUCKAAAASSSSS!

    December 31, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  19. Papa John

    Two pizzas, two toppings, a pack of trojans..$2.00..only at Papa Johns! Beat that, Peyton!

    December 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Uncle John

      Can I have extra condoms with that?

      December 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  20. onebluestocking

    All female Domino's and Hobby Lobby employees: please get pregnant immediately and take as much time off as allowed by law. Perhaps the disruption to their business will cause them to reconsider coverage of birth control.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.